January 5, 2013

Maine lobster catch skyrockets, but value declines

More than 123 million pounds of lobsters were caught in 2012, but the value decreased amid a glut of soft-shelled lobster.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Justin Sylvester packs lobsters at Ready Seafood in Portland Monday, September 10, 2012. More than 123 million pounds of lobsters were caught in 2012, but the value decreased amid a glut of soft-shelled lobster.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Baines declined to endorse or reject Cousens' suggestion that lobstering seasons be regulated, but said he hopes lobstermen are open to suggestions that arise in the Marine Resources department meetings.

"We need to look at everything," he said.

Peter McAleney, who owns New Meadows Lobster and is a major wholesaler, said he's hoping a return to normal weather will help right the ship and that a cold winter, at least thus far, might restore the industry's normal rhythms.

"For years, the water temperatures dictated how the seasons happen," he said, but a warm 2011-2012 winter threw that pattern out of whack and led lobsters to shed their shells earlier.

"We weren't ready for it," McAleney said, so the supply of lobsters backed up and prices plummeted in an effort to unload the catch.

He said prices are still relatively low at about $5 a pound, but it's a slow time for both lobstermen and consumers.

McAleney warned that if order is restored to the market in terms of supply, customers may balk after enjoying record low prices in 2012.

"The problem now is that the consumer expects a cheap lobster," he said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

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